Are there really any new ideas?

Everyone likes to think that they are original. I know I do. But, if you look at the numbers, this may not be the case. I went to howmanyofme.com (Isn’t the internet great?) and found out that there are 319 people with my exact first and last name. Also, There are 138,087 Tyler’s out there. And, 701,057 people share my last name. This, of course, is only in the United States. (According to the U.S. Census Bureau–which I worked for one summer and would make an interesting story!) On top of that, I decided to do a search of how many people have ever lived on earth. No one really agrees, but, estimates range from 70 to 110 billion. If you just look at the earth’s current population of 6.6 billion, the chances of originality are pretty small. Somewhere, sometime, someone has probably already said what you think is originally yours. Somewhere, sometime, someone has already dreamed up what you think is your million dollar original idea.

Of course, unless you are Paris Hilton. I’m pretty sure she was the first person to coin the phrase “that’s hot.” She actually registered the phrase in February 2007 and has already sued Hallmark for using it. It’s interesting to see the phrases that people “own.” It’s important to remember that just because you trademark a phrase doesn’t mean you were the original one to say it. We just have this insatiable desire to be original. Paris, a blond with not much intelligence, who lives off her family’s name and money in Southern California, now that’s original.

Of course, there are more blatant forms of plagiarism than others. For instance, politicians seem exceptionally prone to plagiarizing one another’s speeches. I’m not talking about stealing an idea or theory. I’m talking about using word for word excerpts from each other’s speeches without giving credit to the other’s speech writer. Because, of course, politicians don’t even create their own original material. What an interesting society we live in.

But, I’m getting carried away here. I’m sure this topic has already been written on many, many times. I could do a search on it and come up with 1,000,000 hits. Or, actually 12,500,000–that’s how many hits there were when I searched “originality.” I guess it’s quite the popular subject these days.

I guess my point, if I have one, is that I don’t care. Does it really matter if I was the first one to come up with an idea? Not really. Does it make me less creative if someone came up with the same thought or idea before me, if I didn’t know about it? In my mind it was original. And, the important thing is that we all continue to think and attempt to create new ideas. Because, statistically speaking, the odds are pretty good that out of 6.6 billion people, someone will eventually have an original idea that will improve our lives.

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